Factors to Consider in the Selection of Applicants to Universities of Technology: The Importance of Cognitive Potential and English Language Proficiency

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In an attempt to give all South African students from divers socio-political and economic backgrounds equal access opportunities to institutions of Higher Education, the focus in selection assessment is on establishing which students have the potential to succeed despite their unequal educational backgrounds. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the relationship between academic achievement, cognitive potential, English language proficiency and prior learning of first-year students at a South African university of technology. The test sample comprised 367 applicants. The two test batteries used were the Situation Specific Evaluation Expert(SPEEX) and the VAALSCAN. For the purpose of a regression analysis, a single Cognitive Index was prepared by doing a principal factor analysis of the SPEEX. English languge proficiency was derived from the VAALSCAN. The Matriculation mark was derived from the Grade-12 results. Academic achievement, as measured at the end of the first semester, served as criterion.A multiple correlation coefficient of 0,296 was obtained.The Cognitive Index was the best predictor of academic achievement, while the English mark also featured as a predictor. In conclusion, the implications of these findings for universities of technology are discussed.


Keywords: First-Year Students, Cognitive Potential, English Language Proficiency
Stream: Adult, Vocational, Tertiary and Professional Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Ute G. Hendrich

Senior Counsellor, Student Counselling & Support, Vaal University of Technology
Vanderbylpark, Gauteng, South Africa

Dr Ute Hendrich is a senior counsellor within the Department of Student Counselling & Support at the Vaal University of Technology in South Africa. She holds academic as well as professional qualifications in Psychology and Education. She has done numerous international and national conference presentations and has had articles published locally and abroad.

Ref: L09P0583